The following is a brief overview of key events that happened at the Muncie, IN plant. The goal of this page is to compress 84 years of history in to a easy to digest story. For a more detailed look in to Hemingray Glass Co you definitely need the book “The Hemingray Glass Co, A Most Colorful History” - by Clarice Gordon, a link to the book can be found at the bottom of this article. Be sure to check out the photos at the bottom of the page! The Sanborn maps show the evolution for the plant. Really neat to see it grow.
Hemingray announced in January of 1888 it would move part of its glass factory operations to Muncie, IN. In 1890 the plant was complete enough to move part of the production to Muncie, IN from Covington, KY. It is believed that both factories were operational for the 2 year span of 1888-1890. They would retain an office space in Covington, KY after production moved to Muncie, IN
Unfortunately just as Hemingray was settling into their new factory, a fire occurred, on June 18, 1892 destroying a large part of the factory. Production temporarily moved back to Covington KY as the rebuilding of the Muncie plant took place. Hemingray quickly rebuilt and was back to Muncie. I could not find an exact date but suspect it took only a couple years.
By 1911 Hemingray had at least four furnaces, they were running 24/7 and only shut down for two months in the summer for maintenance and inspection.
In the 1920s more of the production of glass became mechanized. This meant less employees were needed (they had about 500 employees at this point). So they started to make more than just insulators to avoid losing jobs. Their production of bottles became wildly successful for Hemingray. Some of these beautiful ice blue bottles can be seen on the Bottles page.
In early 1927 the office building burned down. Being replaced by the one that is still standing today. Photos of both the old and new office building can be seen at the bottom of this article in the gallery.
All was going good up until the 1930s, Hemingray was the world leader in Glass insulators. Then the great depression hit. Hemingray was in talks with Owens-Illinois to be bought. In 1933 Hemingray became property of Owens-Illinois and the Muncie plant would be known as the Hemingray division. 1933 was also when prohibition was repealed meaning more demand for bottles, but it was to late at this point as the deal with Owen-Illinois was already in the works. The Owen-Illinois plant was #26 and is one way to ID bottles and glass blocks made at the Muncie plant. Hemingray was making some bottles before Owens-Illinois bought them, such as the Water bottles and the beverage bottles.
At some point during the Owens-Illinois years, they bought the property to the left of the factory (former site of the American Window Glass Co, Factory #11 and before that C.H. Overs Window Glass). They put up several new buildings.
One of those new buildings was the really cool glass block building that was built around 1934, right after Owens-Illinois bought the factory and property to the left of the factory. They upgraded the windows to glass blocks made at the plant when production started in 1935. It was a good way to demo their blocks. Be sure to check out nice
identification section for Glass blocks and the Glass Block gallery page.
In 1937 the one billionth Hemingray insulator was made!
From 1948-1951 the Hemingray division of Owens-Illinois was known as American Structural Products. In 1952 it became the Kimble division of Owens-Illinois.
In the 1950s the demand for glass insulators and glass building blocks began to decline.
In the 1960s they started to produce face plates for black and white TVs in 1964 they started to make face plates for color TVs. In 1966 Libbey Glass they ended production of insulators and glass blocks. In march of 1966 they were making 25 inch color TV face plates and was the only thing being made at the plant. They were also producing several patterns of at the plant during this time frame. NOTE: Even though the official press release says insulator production stopped in 1966, There where Hemingray insulators made in 1967 (I have a CD 155 with a 1967 date code) I am working on tracking down info. on these. One article I saw mentioned that these 1967 insulators where not made at Muncie, but by Indiana Glass Co in Dunkirk, IN. More info. is needed before declaring this a fact.
The plant needed to be modernized to produce newer TVs but it was not cost effective to do so as the plant was quite outdated by this point. The plant closed for good in the summer of 1972
On September 4, 2011 In Muncie, IN, Hemingray Glass Co. Site becomes a Historic site. Exactly 123 years after Hemingray moved to Muncie
Lets end this story with a mind blowing fact:
The Hemingray Glass Co was cranking out 50,000,000 Insulators per year (this was way back in 1907 too)!
Bill Meier - Hemingray, 100 years of history, Insulator Gazette
Clarice Gordon - The Hemingray Glass Co, A Most Colorful History
David Whitten - Hemingray Glass Company History
1889 Sanborn Map (*1)
1892 Sanborn Map (*1)
1896 Sanborn Map (*1)
1902 Sanborn Map (*1)
1911 Sanborn Map (*1)
1967 - Aerial Photo (*1)
1979 - Aerial Photo (*1)
Some never before publicly seen videos of the old factory buildings at the Hemingray Glass Co site in Muncie, IN! One is from 1996, and was converted from analog so the quality isn't the greatest. But it's amazing to see the buildings still standing are now gone. Video also shows the main area of the Hemingray dump.
The second video is from 2002, And was taken with a digital camera so it is better quality, But more the buildings were torn down by this point.
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